Long Day at Dover Ends in Late-Race Accident Yeley, Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Caught Up in 10-Car Pileup Try as they might, J.J. Yeley and the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet team from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) just could not deliver ...
Long Day at Dover Ends in Late-Race Accident
Yeley, Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Caught Up in 10-Car Pileup
Try as they might, J.J. Yeley and the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet team from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) just could not deliver a third-consecutive top-10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series finish at Sunday's Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Instead, the famed Monster Mile lived up to its name on this day, which ended seven laps from its intended finish for Yeley and most of the rest of his fellow drivers involved in a 10-car incident on lap 387 that relegated Yeley to a 33rd-place finish.
A third-consecutive top-10 certainly was a tall order to begin with, as Yeley and the No. 18 team started 32nd and battled a tight condition through the center of Dover's high-banked, concrete corners, particularly on the longer fuel-and-tire runs. After working on remedying the handling issue over the course of nine pit stops, crew chief Steve Addington and the Interstate Batteries crew got a call from Yeley on the radio telling them "the car is really pretty nice out there." But by that point, with less than 100 miles to go, Yeley was two laps down and found himself hoping for, at best, a solid top-20 result.
He was in 19th when, on lap 387, a huge pileup unfolded in front of him that involved, among others, Chase for the Nextel Cup contenders Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex, Jr., and Kurt Busch. Yeley was unhurt in the melee, but the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was towed back to the garage and deemed unfit to continue by the JGR crew.
"I went to the bottom and I thought I was clear, but someone on the outside got me," Yeley said of the late-race incident. "Then I hit someone really hard and that was it. It was just a tough deal, but that's all a part of being at Dover. There's a big wreck every so often on the straightaway.
"We were really good at the start of our runs today. During really long runs, we just got too tight. We stayed out trying to get a little bit of track position and then we could go to the end after stopping (on Lap 315). It turned out to be really frustrating because there were only a couple of cars two laps down like us. The way I was looking at it, no matter what happened, we were going to end up in about 20th position. Unless, of course, there was a big wreck, and one of those happened. It was definitely a big disappointment because this is a really long race, but with the way the cautions flew, the circumstances gave us a chance to come out of this with a top-20. But it ended up a lot worse."
The DNF (Did Not Finish) dropped Yeley one spot in the point standings to 20th.
Yeley's JGR teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, led the three-car JGR contingent by finishing ninth. It was Stewart's 20th top-10 finish this season and his ninth in the last 10 races.
Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Chevrolet for JGR, started a strong third but finished 38th after tangling with Kyle Petty in a lap-205 accident on the frontstretch. Hamlin returned to the race and made a handful of laps before retiring early. It was only the third DNF of Hamlin's Nextel Cup career.
Stewart and Hamlin are JGR's representatives in this year's 12-driver Chase for the Nextel Cup. Stewart's ninth-place finish bumped him up one spot to second in points. The two-time Nextel Cup champion is only two points behind series leader Jeff Gordon. Hamlin's DNF, meanwhile, dropped him three spots to 12th in points, 158 markers arrears Gordon.
The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the Sept. 30 LifeLock 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by ABC with its pre-race show beginning at 1 p.m.